Chapter 18-A National Tragedy: A Nation at War (9/11)
It was 4:43 a.m. Walking around the corner from where the limousine dropped him off along C Street he spotted the smaller C Street entrance door. Rollie knocked. He was greeted by a gristly older man in a slightly soiled uniform showing a trace of spilled coffee from earlier in the night. The guard opened the door into a secured breezeway, revealing a dilapidated guard’s desk where the guard had been sitting most of the night.
The old man was seemingly uninterested in who he was or why he was there. After telling the guard the code GL01clear, the guard took on an entirely new demeanor as he ushered Rollie through the gated set of doors to another office inside the complex of offices.
It still seemed unusual, to Rollie that his case was bringing so much attention to so many people. A woman came into the office, a pleasant woman with a wide diplomatic smile; a bit disconcerting after being with the gruffness of his last host. “Dr. Marclay, we’ve been expecting you,” she said in a matter of fact tone. Without any small talk, she spoke very plainly. “We need your help to settle the personal matter revolving activities your father was involved. My name is Agent Ann Sorenson, and I have full authority and clearance to act on your behalf by the FBI and the President. I will need to be assured of your complete silence and cooperation. The information I will share is high on the National Security list, in fact, it is about as high as one can get,” Agent Sorenson said as she handed him a building pass to clip on his coat pocket.
“Dr. Marclay, we need your complete collaboration,” she demanded using her diplomatic expertise. Rollie somewhat alarmed asked, “What did my father do? What does he have to do with National Security?” “Dr. Marclay, all your questions will be answered. First, the FBI shared with you a top secret document.”
“If you remember from reading that document there was a mention of a coin, and in fact the possibility of several coins. That is why we need your cooperation,” she said softening her tone. “Can we get you a cup of coffee?” Rollie responded, “That would be nice!” Answering truthfully as an aide scurried off to get him a cup of coffee he said to her, “I’ll do whatever I can to get to the bottom of whatever my father was involved.” Agent Sorenson nodded positively stating, “Good, We can move forward.”
Rollie was convinced he would need to be straightforward with Agent Sorenson. Knowing she was trained to tell if he was bluffing or telling the truth he became extremely nervous although having nothing to hide. Awkwardly he stumbled over an electric cord lying carelessly on the floor which was connected to a fan. Sheepishly he rose from the floor not feeling very secret agent at the moment as he recovered from his clumsy feet.
He believed Agent Sorenson to be trustworthy. However, it was still a bit disconcerting to Rollie in the fact he felt like he was participating in a fishing exercise. It was like they wanted him there to tell the truth, the whole truth, but he wasn’t sure what truth they wanted to hear. He was still a little wary. “Was it the government who had been the ones to break into his house and not someone associated with Anderson T. Waring?” he thought as silence enveloped the room.
Approached by another agent, Agent Sorenson said, “Dr. Marclay, Agent Jackson would take you to a secure room.” Rollie was led into a small 10’ by 10’ room with a mirror on one wall and two doors on opposite sides of the room. Agent Jackson and two other agents who did not reveal their identities, questioned him beginning with the Probate Hearing and including his relationship with April Taylor. Centering their questions on the clues Rollie’s father left in his books; they asked if Rollie still had the books in question; a statement confirming for Rollie that the government had not been the ones to break into his home. Those books were in plain sight of anyone knowing what they were looking for.
The questioning agents were anxious about the letters in the lockbox despite Rollie’s reassurances that there was no code hidden in the letters. Rollie offered to get them copies of the letters for their review which they agreed they would need at a later date.
“They did reveal,” he finally admitted after about five minutes, “My father appeared to have had an affair with a woman named Alaya, and they had a daughter named Amiko,” Rollie blurted out not meaning to reveal what he just said. Being interrogated was not his forte. He was surprised when one of the agents who had not revealed his identity stated, “We did know about the girl, Alaya. We didn’t know she had a daughter until now, but you can be assured your father did not have an affair with this girl, Alaya. He was the girl’s adopted father.” Stunned, Rollie sat there in silence not sure what to make of the fact up to then kept hidden.
The agent continued, “We will share with you more about that information at a later appropriate time.” Another agent came into the room, appearing to be the superior of Agent Jackson. Without introducing himself he said to Rollie, “We know there is a link between the coins used in support of your father’s adopted daughter and a large cache of gold ingots found in the Philippines. What we can’t find is the link. We believe your father somehow stumbled on the gold, and that is why we need your help and expertise as an historian, as well as, being closely tied to the parties involved, to find that cache of gold coins as a matter of national security.”
Rollie, pausing to take a sip of his coffee which had now cooled some, was quite aware that his expertise had nothing to do with this exercise. Agent Sorenson came back into the room at that moment setting his luggage on the floor. “You won’t be going back to your motel,” she said. “We opted to check you out. Other arrangements have been made on your behalf.” “What kind of arrangements,” he responded warily wondering if he was going to become a missing person. Handing him his suitcase, briefcase, and a hang-up bag, Agent Ann Sorenson spoke with a pleasant and accommodating voice intended to put him at ease.
“After you do some research for us, your cooperation may involve some travel.” Rollie was perplexed as she continued, “That is, if you are able to track down the location or codebook leading to the coins. We need for you do some historical research for us at the Library of Congress.” The mention of a secret codebook sent a sudden chill up Rollie’s spine.
Throwing his coffee cup into a waste container in the corner of the room, he was told the specifications of his research. “We need a link regarding the coin, the ESB inscription, the letters found in your father’s lockbox, and your insight and instincts of your father, as a reference for your search. We have seen your work and your research techniques. You have an uncanny way of bringing out facts that most would overlook. Since you have a personal interest vested in some of the facts through the involvement of your father, we believe you can be an immense help over other experts in the field in discovering something we have overlooked. We need your help!”
Another agent added, “We need you to recall anything you can remember in the letters and with the coin; anything that would reflect clues to the whereabouts of where your father may have hidden a treasure of coins. Again, you realize the secrecy of your assignment.”
In response to clarify that statement Agent Sorenson continued. Rollie noticing the quick nod given to Agent Sorenson from the agent he previously determined to be her superior, she continued, “The knowledge of Golden Lily gold being found would have devastating world financial consequences. That is why I iterate this as a matter of national security and must be kept secret.” Shaking his head that he understood, she told him the specifics about his research.
“You will have at your disposal Agent Chan Michaels from the CIA, just coming through the door, who will escort you to the Library of Congress and then on to the internal computers at Langley allowing you to cross reference anything you find. You will only have until 7:30 am to do your research, because we need to be out of the Library before they open for regular hours of operation because of security concerns.”
One of the agents in the room who had not spoken since entering said to Rollie, “That gives you about two hours at the Library of Congress. At that time Agent Michaels will take full charge, and lead you to Langley. One more thing before we leave for the Library, Dr. Marclay. Did Anderson T. Waring share anything about the lockboxes with you?”
“Yes and No, in that, he shared nothing except that he was a collector of the keys that fit in the lockboxes. He was interested in my key, and he also asked me whether or not I had found a lockbox,” Rollie stated. Rollie kept one fact hidden for whatever the reason. He did not share the fact of Tony’s find of a lockbox. He recalled Tony’s researching the origin of the lockboxes which revealed there were four known lockboxes made with the ESB inscription. Rollie was certain, however, they knew about the existence of four lockboxes, but he was not as certain they knew whether or not Tony was the keeper of the fourth lockbox known to exist. Documentation was somewhere about that fact, Rollie was sure, but it had not yet come into the FBI’s perimeter.
From their response in the interrogation room he strongly now believed Anderson T. Waring, the FBI, State Department, nor the CIA knew the whereabouts of the fourth lockbox although they knew it existed. Noting his watch, it said 5:00 am. “That gave him two and one half hours to find whatever the government has been searching for since World War II.”
Rollie resisted the temptation to laugh out loud. He did not because of being too nervous in the surroundings he had been placed. The door to the right side of the room suddenly opened. Three Secret Service agents examined the room with a glance eying Rollie’s luggage on the floor and the two other agents present.
Behind them walked the President. Besides his initial shock, Rollie noticed how young the agents looked. Rollie felt old and worn at that moment as he found himself in a surprising face to face encounter with the most powerful person of the world. “Dr. James Marclay, I presume” the President said extending his hand.
The President stood there with a teddy bear chuckle and boyish grin on his face. “I want to commend you for your willingness to help in this national quest.” Rollie wasn’t sure how he was to respond. Up to that point he didn’t believe he had a real choice. Maybe the word Rollie felt should have been used was “coerced” rather than “willingness” to serve.
He had been volunteered for way too many committees to say that he willingly was in this room at that time of the morning with the President. All Rollie could muster to say was, “It is a privilege, Mr. President.” Deep down Rollie believed that statement. He believed the President to be the rightful man in the White House despite all the controversy surrounding his election.
After graciously accepting his greeting the President continued. “I understand your father served his country in World War II. Looking at his records he received the Bronze Star and the Bronze Arrowhead. He was a brave man, Dr. Marclay. I appreciate his service to our country. You should be proud.” The statement was said sincerely and put Rollie at ease.
Looking Rollie straight in the eye the President said very seriously, “Your father had a connection of some sort with some gold found in the Philippines and some coins that came into his possession. There have been rumors regarding gold in the Philippines for a long time. They have been kept just that, rumors, since President Harry Truman to me. I concur with all the Presidents in their wisdom to keep the gold stories as rumors only because of the national consequences and obligations and downfall to the world financial organization as just explained to you by Agent Sorenson and the others. This is not a massive cover-up, Dr. Marclay. It is National Security,” he overtly emphasized.
The President’s eyes pierced through Rollie making him feel unsettled as the President made his point. Putting him at ease once again, the President placed his hand on Rollie’s shoulder and said, “Help us out in whatever way you can, and hopefully you can get on with your teaching very soon.”
The President’s eyes appeared to tear up as he continued. “We need to keep good teachers like you teaching, Dr. Marclay. I read about you. You are well qualified. It will not be a breach of national security for you to tell your wife, Laurel, I said hi, after you are finished at the CIA, of course.” The President chuckled at his little joke. After spending a few more moments in personal interchange, the President extended his hand once again and he was whisked away by the Secret Service agents.
Rollie remembered April saying that the President had an early morning engagement in an elementary school in Florida. Rollie glanced up at Agent Michaels as he thought about the President’s day. “I hope I didn’t make the President late to his next engagement,” Rollie said as he glanced up at Agent Michaels and down at his watch noting the time. Agent Sorenson smiled at Rollie’s attempt at humor as she broke into his subdued thoughts.
Returning to her business only demeanor, Agent Sorenson said, “Agent Michaels will direct you to the Library and into your personal involvement in Golden Lily. Your new code name will be GL01GO for our discussion and this operation in the future. Don’t forget your luggage,” she reminded Rollie as he was leaving. He had started to leave the room without picking up his suitcase. A limo picked them up at an opposite entrance than the way he had previously entered the building dropping them off at the Library of Congress building at 5:25 am.
The library was foreboding with the night lights still lighting up the bushes and entrance although dawn had broken the horizon. The limousine drove to a side alley door which was discretely propped open; allowing them access directly through a service entrance to the Library. Once inside Rollie was provided with all the tools he needed for research. He was virtually left alone in the nation’s library, but he understood he was not there for a tour. Rollie was quite familiar with research and this library. He had been here twice before. “Not in this capacity,” he thought. The intensity by which he had been asked to help was now realized.
The silence was almost deafening each time he hit a key on the computer or turned the page of a book. He started the process of building a reference of words to research; common phrases, such as, gold, goldsmiths, Philippine gold. Rollie was surprised to find so much information on file regarding the speculation of gold hidden by the Japanese during World War II. “If so many people know about this gold how has it remained a secret, and why do they need my help?” Even the code name of Golden Lily, he soon discovered, was readily available in several references of books, news, and magazine articles written about the subject.
The material researched was easily found. “So,” he perceived, “what the government is trying to find is not obvious to the casual or even the serious searcher. What they are looking for, most decidedly, is the link to how my father found the gold he came to be in possession.” It puzzled Rollie. “The connection has to be the lockbox he acquired in Wakayama, Japan,” he concluded.
Rollie, glancing at his wrist watch, decided to take a different turn in his research since time was winding down to the 7:30 am deadline. In the file search of information he typed in the ESB inscription and cross referenced that with other library filed documents regarding goldsmiths from the Philippines. Again, Rollie believed this to be common research easily acquired. He had several hits. Eliminating all the possible sites except for two, Rollie explored those references believing them to be too vague until he typed in the dates 1935-1945 to explore the names of Filipino goldsmiths.
The reference took him to a file on the 2nd floor to a reference not available on the computer. It was an odd trek, almost eerie, as he made his way up the empty staircase with no one else seemingly visible in the building. Finding the box where that file was located he pulled it out; setting it on the table beside the shelf. In opening the file he found several articles about various searches for gold in the Philippines. Among these articles was a news article referring to a certain goldsmith from Mindanao with the ESB initials.
The man revealed in the black and white photo in the article was a popular goldsmith known before the war as Enrique Salazar Bocani. He had disappeared December 8th of 1941 while on a business trip to Manila, according to some surviving family members at that time. Rollie noted mentally this was just after Pearl Harbor when the Japanese had first invaded the Philippines. No more information was available, except for the notation of some of the goldsmith’s known works. Among the list mentioned, besides scores of rings, bracelets, and necklaces, was his unconfirmed attribution for a gold jewel encrusted art piece in the Japanese Emperor’s home.
Also on the list, Rollie noted, were four gold trimmed lock boxes. He realized suddenly this must have been Tony’s source, verifying the number of lockboxes known to exist. Rollie thought carefully as he placed the information back in its proper place.
Rollie confirmed in his mind that the ESB inscription was Enrique Salazar Bocani. Writing that name down on his list to cross reference with his list he would take to the CIA, he continued with other words. He looked up “gold coin collections,” but he came up with no leads. There was one reference found of a mystery coin discovered, but there was no description or picture with the notation except, Treasury Department code TW. It was labeled as inaccessible. He wrote down the code and the Treasury Department. Nothing in the letters or the lockbox, as he racked his brain, gave him any clues.
Hearing footsteps in the quiet surroundings tapping on the slate floor of the room he was working, Rollie turned to see Agent Michaels approaching. “It is time,” he said. “We have to go!” Feeling rushed by Agent Michaels Rollie collected his papers placing them in his brief case. He picked up his other two bags of luggage and was led to a waiting helicopter.
Once in the helicopter his mind started to drift. He and Agent Michaels were heading to the CIA Headquarters Building. The onrush of relief hit him as he cherished the information that his father had not cheated on his mom.
That was quite a revelation, after all, that he had assumed for the past several months. His thoughts centered on Laurel. “He had not cheated, at least in a physical sense, on Laurel,” Rollie reasoned as he sat in the helicopter listening to the whirl of the blades slice through the air, “but he had cheated on her trust. That is a fact he could not deny.” During that moment Rollie longed to see Laurel to make everything right between them. His remorse was quite evident and played heavily in his mind as he turned his thoughts to his dad who had kept the adoption a secret all these years. “Why would he do such a noble thing and keep it hidden?”
The turmoil resulting from that mystery was one that Rollie had yet to solve, but he was determined to do so. The question Rollie mulled was the connection between the adoption and the coins. His thoughts answered his question with a statement. “He would not be here if that was known,” he thought stupidly to himself. “That was what the government wanted him to find out.” Rollie sat up when there appeared to be a change in the sound of the blades chopping the air. With each rotation he thought of Laurel.
He reflected back to his childhood of how he had often fantasized that he was a secret agent involved in some James Bond type case. “Maybe Laurel had some insight after all about him that he was not aware,” as he remembered Laurel’s feeble attempts to let acquaintances know that his name was Dr. JAMES Rolland Marclay, always emphasizing James over Rolland. Laurel always believed that Dr. James R. Marclay had a better ring to it than Professor Rollie, as most of his students and colleagues referred to him.
“He was fulfilling a destiny,” he thought with a bit of elation as he visualized telling Laurel and Tony of his James Bond experience. “Surely just telling them would not fall within the boundaries of National Security.” he justified as the helicopter landed on a helipad located just inside the inner parking area. “After all, the President himself said to tell Laurel hi,” puzzled for a moment wondering once again how the President so readily knew his wife’s name.
The helicopter took off almost as soon as it had landed, minus Agent Chan Michaels and Dr. Marclay. They were greeted by the Under Secretary of International Affairs from the Department of the Treasury and the Director of Public Affairs of the CIA. It was 7:49 am as Rollie was lead through the front entrance of the CIA Headquarters. Directly in front of him on the floor was the familiar symbol and entrance seen so often in movies and television programs depicting the CIA. The large granite CIA seal measured, Rollie guessed, about sixteen feet across in diameter.
In the center was the 16-point compass star representing the collecting of intelligence data from around the world. The star was resting on a shield symbolizing the defense and Intel gathered for policy makers; like the President to make defense decisions regarding our countries security. The eagle resting on the top, he also learned from Agent Michaels brief explanation of the CIA inlay, stood for strength and alertness. Rollie and Agent Michaels stood for a moment in front of the gold stars on the wall in honor of the fallen heroes of the CIA as a silent tribute.
Quite awed by his entrance into the building Rollie was quickly ushered through the doors into a special room that very few outside people would ever see. An identification guest badge was handed to him. With his luggage secured at the front desk, he took out the notes placed in his brief case from his Library of Congress research. Rollie was then hurriedly escorted by the entourage into a computer research room deep in the CIA building. He asked the officials who preceded him into the room, “Do you recognize a Code TW?” The Under Secretary quickly explained to Rollie regarding his inquiry that they were expecting that question. “That is one point of information we knew you would readily find. You were monitored in your search while at the library,” the Under Secretary responded quite frankly to Rollie. “The file was from a report written by an agent, Tim Waring, in 1949. We were made aware of the distinction of the case when a dead man, now identified, had been found on a beach during a particular battle in Luzon with several gold coins on his possession.” Clearing his throat he continued.
“More coins showed up later during the Nixon era in the White House, and most recently during the middle days of the Clinton administration. Nothing was ever found to connect the dots, that is, until the connection was made between a lockbox and a key with the same ESB inscription as the coins, and as you now know some gold ingots found in the Philippines.”
“A clue to finding one of the missing lockboxes was traced to your father when a Probate Clerk found a key, quite by accident, during a search of an insurance document held in trust at a bank in northern Michigan. It was the Bank’s policy to cross reference gold items such as this with a Federal Data Base to detect potential fraud. Our department came to play in this investigation when a Federal Marshall who had previously worked in the Treasury Department, remembered a flurry of activity surrounding another lockbox discovered by an agent within our department, Tim Waring. Government agents confirmed there were four of these lockboxes.”
“One of the located boxes contained a gold bar with the ESB inscription.” Pausing for a breath, the Under Secretary persisted, “We had a trace on a second lockbox containing a gold ingot with the ESB inscription, but it was stolen. That box contained a Japanese code book, neither of which has ever been apprehended. As I said a moment ago your father had in his possession the key to a third lockbox. We were disappointed upon the discovery of your father’s lockbox that it did not have a Japanese code book within its contents. That is why you are here.”
After a moments pause he said, “We need you to discover a connection to the search up to this time for the missing code book that would lead us to a cache of gold coins related to those your father seemed to have in his possession. The fourth lockbox is still not accounted for and may contain the missing link. Now, Dr. Marclay, if you will excuse me, I must get back to some other duties. Any information you acquire please inform Agent Dr. Benjamin Carroll, in the next office of anything that can connect us with the gold reserve. If unclaimed gold would fall in the wrong hands…” The Director’s voice seemed to trail off as he said those words.
Rollie was relieved the man was finished talking. He wasn’t trying to hide anything, but in a way Rollie noted that he had withheld information when he failed to mention Tony’s find from the Japanese dig of the lockbox. He guessed that the lockbox had not yet been brought to the Treasury Department’s attention, or it was not deemed as important when it was declared as an archeological find when it was brought into the country.
Rollie suddenly thought it important to hold some information back as a note of caution. After all, he didn’t want Tony to become embroiled in a legal dispute. However, he was also fearful of the consequences of not revealing what he knew about the fourth lockbox in Tony’s possession. He regretted withdrawing from Tony recently remembering a stack of unanswered e-mails on his computer. “With the struggles with Laurel and his flirtations with April…,” his thoughts drifted as he was shown to another part of the building.
At 8:10 am the Director of Public Affairs from the CIA logged him into a computer terminal in the room he was sitting. Suddenly he was alone. Agent Chan Michaels closed the door, standing guard outside the room. He had previously been searched at the front desk when he had been assigned a visitor’s badge. His cell phone had been retrieved and kept with his luggage.
The car keys to his rental were assigned to an agent who had the responsibility to return the car rental to an office in Washington. Rollie didn’t know where he was going from here, but he decided he would just have to roll with the punches.
He was getting concerned, however, about Laurel. There had not been any word the night before. Andrew had not called him back, and he had not been able to reach Laurel while he was in the Library of Congress or from the helicopter. In fact, as he tried to call he was told not to make the call by Agent Michaels who said it was a security issue which upped his anxiety level. Pulling out his list of words he brought from the Library of Congress he began to type knowing everything and anywhere he went on the computer would be monitored.
Typing in “Enrique Salazar Bocani” several pages popped up that referred to the goldsmith from the Philippines. Briefly looking at those pages, he pressed print. Reading the account on a hard copy was much easier than trying to scroll the pages of the computer. He read from the hard copy a detailed account of the follow-up of a battle in Luzon, January 1945 when a corpsman reported a Filipino man killed in the battle, run over by a tank. Rollie took note. “He knew this story from his father,” Rollie thought dumbfounded. The report continued that there were indications of a baby at the scene, but no baby was found. A lieutenant at the scene had said there was a baby, although a corpsman, and later a corpsmen team could not confirm a baby at the scene except for some circumstantial evidence. “If there was a baby at the scene it was most likely washed away in the waves,” one report stated.
Reading the report brought back the story his father had told through the years except his story always talked of his placing the baby off on the rocks where it was safe. Rollie thought, “How had his father taken the baby from the beach and somehow kept the whole thing secret?” It seemed impossible to Rollie, but then again, he was dealing with the aftermath. “How did Amiko fit into the picture?”
Rollie noticed some commotion out in the hallway. Activity had really picked up and the guard at his door, Agent Michaels, was speaking to another agent in what looked like a very apprehensive pose. On a whim Rollie typed in Tim Waring revealed to him by the Under Secretary just a moment before under the code TW and the added code given to him by the Under Secretary. It led him to the same report he had just printed out which was odd. As he had been told the code TW was Agent Tim Waring. Rollie typed in Anderson T. Waring. While reading the page that came up on Anderson Waring, a warning came across the page, “This transmission will end in 30 seconds.” “What’s that all about?” Rollie thought wrinkling his brow. “Had he typed in something that caused an automatic shutdown?”
Looking over his shoulder he saw some alarming activity beginning to take place outside the office he was working. Quickly reading through the page Rollie saw that it indicated suspicions, but no proof, that Tim Waring II, the son of Agent Tim Waring had been involved in the possible theft of a second missing lockbox with the ESB inscription. Reading as fast as he could Rollie attempted to absorb the words on the screen before the screen would go blank.
He read, “Agent Tim Waring admittedly had in his possession one of the lockboxes when he died, which had been sanctioned by the State Department because the contents had been accounted and verified. The initial lockbox found by Agent Tim Waring had been sanctioned and given to Agent Waring by then sitting President John F. Kennedy filled with candy upon the agent’s retirement. However, there were indications that a second lockbox had been found by Agent Waring, but no hard evidence confirmed that suggestion. Some surveillance has led current agents to believe, as of 5/1/00 that Anderson T. Waring, grandson of Agent Tim Waring may possibly have some bearing on the missing lockbox in question and other problematic gold transactions. Case and investigation is pending.”
With his skimming the last few words the computer screen and transmission terminated. At that same time Agent Chan Michaels stepped into the doorway. “Plans for this operation have changed. You will be escorted from the building in a few moments. We are sorry for the interruption, but we are now at a national emergency. This operation has been temporarily terminated.” Rollie was surprised with the curtness and abruptness, and especially curious about the national emergency. Asking about transportation, Rollie was concerned how to get to the airport from there so he could fly home. Agent Michaels said, “You will need to find another way to get home. No flights will be going your way in the near future. A second plane just hit the south tower of the World Trade Center at 9:06 am. It looks like we are at war.”
Rollie’s heart leaped in terror. “A second plane hit the towers in New York? He didn’t know about a first plane!” Agent Michaels interrupted him as Rollie asked about a first plane. “I have just been informed that an Agent Cordella from the FBI will be here to escort you to a temporary safe place.” It was then that Rollie thought not so much for his safety, but for his wife and kids. He thought about April. Although a potential affair had been averted, he nonetheless still had lingering feelings. “What about April?” he wondered. “She was scheduled to be in the World Trade Center this morning to finish up her interview.”
Looking up at the clock on the wall it was 9:09. Word came that the building was being evacuated. Rollie picked up his luggage at the front desk, and turned in his visitor’s badge. Leaving through the front entrance, he went out to the front lawn with several other people from the building. He stood by a small sapling growing out of an area with a cultivated pond. Sitting on a rock under the tree he contemplated what he was going to do next. It was 9:10 am, a long minute, when he attempted another call home. About that time word spread through the crowd that some unaccounted for planes, presumed hijacked, were heading for Washington.
Shaken after his phone call with Laurel, telling by the sound of her voice that she had not heard the news of the national tragedy developing, Rollie tried to explain what was happening. He could tell that Laurel was confused, angry, or both. She was obviously worried; her voice sounding harsh with a tinge of hurt. By what she was saying, made him understand that she had not comprehended at all what he had just said to her about the planes hitting the Towers.
He readily determined she was angry. “She has found out about April,” his chest leapt in panic. His heart was pumping wildly as he felt caught like a deer in headlights. Laurel ranted at him for a moment. “How dare you stoop so low? You assured me you were not having an affair. I saw the e-mail, Rollie, the one you wrote to an Ami before you left.”
“Is she there with you right now?” she accused him; her voice rising to a higher pitch than normal. Laurel started to cry when the phone went dead; cutting out in the middle of her crying. He redialed the phone, but he could not get an answer. April was the farthest thing from his mind at that moment. He would tell her the truth about that later. All kinds of thoughts started bombarding him as he redialed the number. “If she was that angry about finding Ami on the computer, he was in hot water, possibly expulsion.” Rollie had never felt so low!
At that moment Rollie’s heart sank as he felt a great deal of remorse for allowing his emotions to sway him from the woman he adored. “He would explain things to Laurel to set the record straight. Surely she would understand?” Rollie thought as he redialed the number again. At this point, however, he was not quite as confident. His goal right now was to set her straight about Ami and the situation that was happening in the nation at that moment.
Frantically, Rollie redialed Laurel’s number, just as he looked down at his watch. It was 9:40 am. The news rippled through the crowd like “the wave” often seen in sports stadiums as he stood in the outside courtyard of the CIA Headquarters. As “the wave” hit him the news was, “the Pentagon had just been hit.”
There was a lot of concern in the crowd, but Rollie did not notice a lot of panic. Many of those in the courtyard were professional military from the administrative offices of the Headquarters Building. Some were being given permission to leave the job and go home for safety concerns. Rollie grasped his forehead pulling his hair back. The phone was ringing. “Laurel please pick up the phone?” The nation really was at war!